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every harp player's nightmare

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Nov 23, 2009 6:15 AM GMT

Well...I'm had close calls before but never the full on, nine yards, real deal.

Let me paint the picture. Good friends 60th birthday party. Rented room at the community center, liquor license, lots of good food. He's a very good fiddle player and the invite said there will be music so bring your instruments if you want to jam. I knew what to expect, lots of celtic fiddley reels and jigs. I'm fine with that, great 1st position speed melody playing work out. Kind of enjoyed the first hour or so. Went acoustic until we hit 6 fiddles or so and the accordians came out so I played amplified and it was great. We paused for the cake and presentations. I read a goofy poem I wrote at the last minute. Thought we were through and safe. No chance.

Couple of his friends got up with the guitars and did a god awful version of "When I'm Sixty Four". They barely knew the words and totally blew the bridge. First warning. But I still had a beer. Then they announce they are going to do a couple "rock and roll" tunes. Second warning. But my rig was still all setup. Then they yelled, "hey come on up and play some harp on this". No way out.

One electric guitar, one plugged in acoustic, one gal on keyboard. Might be okay I think. And then I hear those words that every harp player dreads and fears. The words I've been telling my wife about for several years now and she just hasn't believed it.

"Mustang Sally in D!"

I'll spare you the details...just to say it was the most painful couple minutes I spent since my vasectomy. What is it about this song that makes guys without a blues bone in their body think they can rock out? Ouch!


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Nov 23, 2009 7:30 AM GMT
jon s Replied:

"just to say it was the most painful couple minutes I spent since my vasectomy"

hahaha nice.

iv learned my lesson to never bring my gear to my friends house any more. they allways have jam sessions but every one there is into rock/metal. its just not even worth carrying my amp up an down the stairs. its not too bad when its some rock tunes, but once it turns metal i just unplug an leave the cap off my rum.

Nov 23, 2009 8:48 AM GMT
Chris C Replied:

Let me guess, the guitar player comes up after and says, 'That was great, Lotta fun. We sould get together and start a band."

Nov 23, 2009 4:08 PM GMT
jon s Replied:

i hear that. there allways like that was fun jamming, we should jam again blah blah blah. an im like sure sure ya ill hit you up some time...

Nov 23, 2009 11:57 PM GMT
BlueMoose Replied:

I find I really have to work hard at reminding myself that not everyone listens to classic Chicago harp blues 6- 8 hours a day and that even at Blues Clubs you can't assume that even half the people there know the songs.

Nov 24, 2009 2:02 AM GMT
Jawbone K Replied:

around dallas in the 90's people used to put a "no mustang sally" decal on their amps.

it's an overused and usually poorly done cover of a once-great motown hit. i have no idea how people can mix up that with blues. but i sort of see it as a necessary evil, liveable if done halfway right.

Nov 24, 2009 6:15 AM GMT
OrthodoxBlues Replied:

I think one of the guys on one of the guitar forums has

"Whatever you do, don't play Mustang Sally"

as his signature line.

If it makes you feel any better, everybody here keeps telling me about this great blues jam that always turns out to be a rather good bluegrass jam!

Nov 24, 2009 2:34 PM GMT
jawbone s Replied:

Well, we played Mustang Sally, TWICE!!! at our last gig on Sat. Nite. My bass player hates it but I told him "When you find me a song that gets the girls up on the dance floor faster, we'll drop it" so far he hasn't come up with one. I still think it is my job to entertain and if the crowd wants Mustang Sally they are going to get Mustang Sally.

Nov 24, 2009 3:24 PM GMT
BlueMoose Replied:

Done with a steady groove, a good sense of timing on some of the stops and a feel for where the lyrics actually are (they had none of the above) it can be a real swinging party tune and a lot of fun.

This wasn't! :)


Nov 24, 2009 4:00 PM GMT
jawbone s Replied:

Ahhhh - I've been on both sides of that!!

Nov 25, 2009 1:56 AM GMT
walterharp Replied:

well, you coulda been dead or in a coma. so could be worse...i guess :-)

Nov 25, 2009 3:33 AM GMT
Jawbone K Replied:

hm. in D, that's a good opportunity to blow some seriously crazy 3rd position in C, esp on a chromatic. might as well have fun with it and look good to boot.

i cut my teeth on that song and admit to being severely burnt out on it. jawbone of the great white north does make a good point, for some reason it's a very dance-able song.

another that worked well for us in a previous band though was "standing on shaky ground", an etta james covered by delbert mcclinton very well. it's a sort of hang-on-the-I song, lots of buildup before it finally hits the IV abd V.

Nov 25, 2009 3:27 PM GMT
Chris C Replied:

Another like that here in Australia is 'Sweet Home Alabama'. The number of timesI've been asked to play those two! Even in the remotest pubs in outback Northern Territory. Which I really do not understand asthey bears no relation to the peoples lives.Perhaps its becausethey bear no relation to peoples lives.

Mustang can be a good one to have some real fun with and jam with if with like minded people, but the straight up and down, badly played version is so tiresome.

Nov 26, 2009 6:40 AM GMT
OrthodoxBlues Replied:

Chris --

I never would have imagined that Sweet Home Alabama was big in Northern Territory!

Nov 26, 2009 8:58 AM GMT
Chris C Replied:

Yes done many manygigs in the NT.Alot are what I would call 'Character Forming' gigs. Sweet Home Alabama had a resurgence several years ago after a movie which I cant remember. Mustang Sally has been very big ever since The Commitments. Brown Eyed Girl has always been big. I remember the first time I went Pub hopping in Darwin and heard the same songs in about three Pubs. To be fair the NT has some great original artists as well. Reggae is big. Some of the Aboriginal Bands are great.The Blues is now also very popular in Darwin. I was involved with the formation of the sucessful Darwin Blues and Roots Club.

Nov 26, 2009 9:03 PM GMT
OrthodoxBlues Replied:

Well, that's far more blues than we have here on the Big Island of Hawaii. Wish I had seen Darwin when I visited Australia in '94. Made it to Sydney, Melbourne, Kangaroo Island, Cairns, Ayers Rock, Margaret River, Denmark, Perth and Broome (that's a good part of the eastern and western coasts), but no Darwin!

Nov 27, 2009 12:47 AM GMT
Chris C Replied:

Thats more than alot of Aussies Have seen (but not as much as me ofcourse lol) Darwin's a bit like Broome and Cairns. You say that Darwin may have more Blues Musos than Hawaii but I some how doubt that.

There are some nice players there but it is a v. smallcity and American blues whilst appreciated is still alittle second hand there IMHO. Iimagine Hawaii'slink to mainlandUSA would makefora goodBlues scene.Australia in general (and this is a generalisation)has its own variations some times called Pub Rock or Bikier blues which were born in the 60's and 70's. Hard boggie styles basically.

Darwin does have a great multi-cultural relaxed attitude because of the heat. A bit like the Big Easy I imagine

Nov 27, 2009 12:49 AM GMT
Chris C Replied:

SorryBlueMoose I have strayed off topic a fair wack.

Nov 27, 2009 5:10 PM GMT
jawbone s Replied:

Back on topic!!! No version of Mustang Sally has ever been as bad as my vasectomy!!!! You never want to piss off the guy with a knife but did he never hear of freezing!!! what an a$$hole!!!!

Nov 27, 2009 7:18 PM GMT
Davey G Replied:

Hello evryone , I would like to invite you all to have a look at joining in on the Harmonica Club Chatroom.

I would strongly recommend if you are serious about playing and learning and haveing FUN pop into the Harmonica Club Chatroom where you can use the mic and play your Harmonicaalong withothers that are happy to help and give you confidence with your live performance , My Worst Nightmare is A Harmonica Chatroom with no sound!!! ;-( .

Nov 27, 2009 11:22 PM GMT
HarpMan Freeman Replied:


Could you post this as a new topic. I think it would be lost under "...nightmere.."

Dec 02, 2009 9:18 PM GMT
Joe L Replied:

Mustang Sally is a fantastic song when it's done really well. For example, I've heard Magic Slim play this tune about a hundred times. I've listened to his recordings of it a lot. I don't get tired of it. Vance Kelly does a killer version of it, too. Sadly, most people don't perform the song as well as they do.

Same thing with Sweet Home Chicago, Stormy Monday or Crosscut Saw.

Dec 02, 2009 11:17 PM GMT
Chris C Replied:

I'm with you Joe, If I hear another awful version of Stormy Monday I'llon a T-Bone walker CD on, put it on repeat, put my headphones on and never come out again. But wait that would mean no more Little Walter or Louis Jordan. Damn.

Dec 13, 2009 7:26 PM GMT
mitch l Replied:

it could have been MUCH worse....they could have said 'its ok pal,theres NO harp on this....'

Happend to me, at my OWN jam,nice to feel wanted!

Dec 15, 2009 1:56 PM GMT
BluEyes Replied:

The song I hate to play is "Last Dance With MaryJane"

Dont ask me why I just hate it. And they know it... so

Feb 01, 2010 9:08 PM GMT
skullShaker Replied:

TOO FUNNY I went on line and found a BLUES jam night called they asked what I played BLUES HARP 2nd. and can sing too. it was set I walked in ask for a blues in G we played it I sang we did a few others cool blues riffs,them they asked can you sing Mustang Sally, the VoodoChild, RED house. and others most not what I play. It was my last jam there they keep calling me to join not what I want to play is all


Feb 02, 2010 9:11 PM GMT
BluEyes Replied:

What really gets my goat is when I want to play and they group plays songs I don't like I get even by just playing what I want.

you would think thats bad, or poor musicianship, but after words the group and the crowd ( Don't wnat to write fans ) liked it.

abner ( Go figure )

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